DTS Play-Fi, a technology that uses the local WiFi network to play and stream music wirelessly to connected speakers, network media players, AV receivers and compatible televisions, is going to benefit from various updates which could make it a more important player in the field of wireless home theater.
DTS Play-Fi wireless transmission technology, which is licensed to more than 20 brands (Anthem, Klipsch, McIntosh, Phillips, Rotel, Sonus faber, SVS, etc.), now supports up to 7.2.4 channel surround sound in a home theater system with a soundbar, compared to the current 7.1.2 channels, thanks to two new categories of Play-Fi devices. The first category features wireless subwoofers equipped with Play-Fi technology and the second consists of Play-Fi compatible speakers with upward-firing drivers and conventional drivers to reproduce vertical effects or the rear surround channels. Wireless speakers and subwoofers will be compatible with future DTS Play-Fi soundbars.
Last year, DTS introduced Play-Fi technology to smart TVs (read the article DTS Play-Fi Home Theater: wireless surround sound on your Wi-Fi TV!), removing the cable connecting the TV to the Play-Fi compatible soundbar, a practical option to limit the cables if you wish to mount your TV on a wall. More importantly, DTS Play-Fi TV will allow separate Play-Fi speakers to be used for the front left and front right channels of a home theater system, not just the surround channels. Therefore, the TV’s built-in speakers reproduce the sound of the center channel. Previously, Play-Fi speakers could only be used as surround speakers in a home theater system, and only when paired with a DTS Play-Fi soundbar.
Another breakthough: DTS Play-Fi compatible televisions will be able to connect wirelessly to two Play-Fi subwoofers simultaneously. This dual connection will allow you to create a 5.2-channel system from several Play-Fi speakers and enjoy more intense bass. In the past, DTS Play-Fi wireless home theater systems not only had to include a soundbar, but were also limited to a single wireless subwoofer.
For those who want to add new elements to their home theater system over time, Play-Fi enabled TVs will support previously unavailable features. For example, it will be possible to add one or two Play-Fi subwoofers to accompany the TV’s built-in speakers, then later add a pair of wireless speakers as surround speakers. Then you can add two speakers for the front channels.
Play-Fi TVs will be compatible with existing Play-Fi soundbars and speakers if those devices can be controlled through the official DTS Play-Fi app. Compatibility is not guaranteed if audio devices are controlled via a third-party Play-Fi app.
Other Play-Fi TV features include:
- Wireless streaming of TV sound to speakers in three other rooms simultaneously,
- On-screen display of metadata and cover art for albums listened to via DTS Play-Fi compatible streaming services,
- Ability to listen to TV sound with headphones using the DTS Play-Fi Headphones app.
Which devices are eligible?
The first audio equipment you can use to build a DTS Play-Fi surround system will be available later this year from the Philips Fidelio brand. Among these devices is the Philips Fidelio FB1 soundbar, a 7.1.2-channel model equipped with a pair of upward-firing drivers and Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and IMAX Enhanced decoding. Also included are the Philips Fidelio FS1 speakers, which can be used as surround speakers, and the Fidelio FW1 subwoofer.
The first TVs were added to the DTS Play-Fi ecosystem last year. They include the Philips 48OLED936, Philips 55OLED936 and Philips 65OLED936. In addition Philips, Toshiba, JVC and Hitachi all plan to offer TVs compatible with DTS Play-Fi technology.
Two other manufacturers that seem likely to offer Play-Fi compatible models are China’s Hisense and TCL, both of which have announced plans to offer DTS Play-Fi soundbars. Indeed, TCL has confirmed its intention to launch two Play-Fi soundbars at an unspecified date. Hisense also confirmed that it plans to release two Play-Fi soundbars in the fall, including one with a 7.1.2 driver setup, and said Play-Fi TV is “a feature we are exploring for future models”.
An alternative to other wireless technologies
DTS Play-Fi is now a serious alternative to the major players in the field of wireless home theater such as Yamaha (MusicCast), Sonos , Denon and Marantz (Heos). Indeed, you are no longer obliged to choose devices of the same brand to expand your system. Similarly, DTS Play-Fi can compete with AirPlay 2 technology for multi-room systems because you don’t have to own an Apple device to stream your content to your connected speakers.